The North American experience of Catholicism is tempered by the fact that English-speaking North America’s major spiritual impulses were Northern European, Protestant, and anti-Catholic. By the time of the emergence of distinct American immigrant identities in the late nineteenth century, Roman Catholicism in North America had almost ceased to be regarded as a mainstream faith. Literature focusing on Catholicism tended to be as marginalized as the North American adherents of the Roman Catholic faith. Many works that treat Catholicism, then, also treat ethnicity and culture, including that of the immigrant. For example, James T. Farrell’s Studs Lonigan: A Trilogy (1935), set in Depression-era Chicago, and Edwin O’Connor’s The Last Hurrah (1956), detailing the rise and fall of an Irish Catholic Boston politician, are typical Roman Catholic ethnicity fictions, nearly a genre in their own right.
Often, an author whose works might be regarded as Catholic is categorized differently. For example, early twentieth century author Willa Cather, who utilizes Catholic themes and settings in works such as Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927) and Shadows on the Rock (1931), is more likely to be found categorized as a frontier novelist, because of her locales, or as a woman author.
Ernest Hemingway was a convert to Roman Catholicism for the sake of an early marriage, and many of his novels and stories are set in...
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